By on August 25, 2015

2015 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Overland

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating complaints that gear selector handles on Jeep Grand Cherokees may slip out of park and cause the car to roll away, Automotive News is reporting.

Owners have detailed several complaints to NHTSA who said their Grand Cherokees rolled away while parked, including one person in Michigan who said a child was injured exiting the rollaway vehicle.

A similar transmission selector was used in the 2014 Chrysler 300. An owner complained of a similar problem in that car, where it rolled away and crashed into two other vehicles.

Chrysler changed the transmission selector in 2015 in both cars, but it’s unclear if the investigation or owner complaints prompted the switch. Many people (including yours truly) thought the handle was slightly confusing to use, and several NHTSA complaints echo that sentiment.

According to the agency, roughly 408,000 cars could be impacted by a potential recall.

As part of its settlement with the government, an independent monitor will review Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s handling of recalls for two years.

We reached out to FCA for comment on the investigation, but haven’t heard back.

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Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the safety administration that is investigating the complaints. It is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

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34 Comments on “NHTSA Investigating Gear Selector in Jeep Grand Cherokee, Possibly Other Models...”

  • avatar

    How hard can it possibly be to design a *bleep!*-ing shift lever? One would think that this would be a “solved problem” by now.

    If you are going to have just an electronic “shift lever” with some pretty lights on it, (as in, no BTSI, serpentine gate, mechanical shifter lock button, whatever), just go all the way and use a knob like on the new Rams.

    And life lesson for the person who got out of the car when it was accidentally in gear: just like the good folks in driver’s ed told you, always use the parking brake!

  • avatar

    Parking brake fail too? Is it confusing? The idiocracy is unstoppable.

  • avatar

    More fuel for the auto transmission vs gearbox debate! ;-)

    I’m not saying the electric selector is flawless, but I think I would chalk up many of the complaints filed as “user error.”

    • 0 avatar

      I would have to agree that its probably user error. Whenever I have driven my brothers MY 14 GC i have had some difficulty going from reverse to drive and to a lessor extant when going from drive to park. Its not that difficult but is quite different than a standard shifter, but it seems that you can get familiar with it pretty quickly.

  • avatar

    I’ve been complaining about this crappy shifter since the A8.
    Everyone said I was wrong – hypercritical.


    flickr. com/photos/bigtruckseriesreview/5224740049/in/album-72157625510593090/

  • avatar

    Having driven many rental 300s with this gear selector, I’m certain this is user error. That said, if enough people are having an issue then it does become a design issue even if it’s working as designed.

  • avatar

    I received one

  • avatar

    I received one of the original Ford warning stickers as part of their recall; does this mean I get another for my collection?

    NHTSA’s long term fix will probably to mandate automatically deploying parking brakes.

  • avatar

    Croatian actress Ena Begovic was killed 15 years ago in an accident involving Grand Cherokee. It happened by the exactly the same scenario as described above.

    There was a lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler, family tried to proof it was the problem with the gearbox or gear selector, but the case was dismissed:

    They lost the case also in Croatian court, as it was ruled as driver error.

  • avatar

    If only there was a way to keep the brakes applied after the car was parked.

  • avatar

    As the owner of a 2013 Charger with this gear shift lever, I can tell you that it was terrible. It has very soft clicks through the gears, and many times you would feel the click but it would not go to the desired gear, you had to physically look at the indicator on the dash to be sure what gear you were in. In all likelihood the levers are not actually defective, just operating as designed (poorly).

  • avatar

    It was in park but rolled backwards anyways, yeah yeah. Just like when you stood on the brake but the car just kept going faster and faster. Morons at the fringes of the bell curve are what keeps the NHTSA in business.

  • avatar

    So many injuries and fatalities could be prevented if more cars had a manual transmission instead of an automatic.

  • avatar

    American car companies are trying their damnedest to to replicate their engineering successes of the 70’s and 80’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

      I had a 1975 Mercury Comet whose column shifter liked to pop out of Park at the most inopportune times. By the third time when it almost killed my dad, we had the mechanic change the spring inside the steering column. We were the original owners, and never received a recall notice.

      We had our revenge by eventually buying another Mercury.

  • avatar

    I have a 2014 JGC Limited with this shifter. 12K miles and no problems so far…………..

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      My wife and I test drove a ’14 JGC and both agreed it had the most confusing shifter we had ever seen.

      It was more like a videogame joystick.

      I guess one could eventually get used to it. But I don’t think a shifter is something one should have to “get used to”.

  • avatar

    My wife’s 14 GC has this shifter. The biggest issue we’ve had (in two years) is that, sometimes, if you are trying to K turn or back out of the garage quickly, you end up in neutral instead of drive.

    This is an electronic shift selector made to look like a mechanical selector. If you are unfamiliar with the “feel” of an electronic selector, you will need to make a conscious effort to look at the dashboard and verify what gear you are really in. It’s not that hard.

    I’m filing this under “user-error”.

  • avatar

    BMW has been using a similar shifter for a number of years. For better or worse, if the car is in gear with a door open and the driver’s foot is removed from the brake pedal, it immediately jams it into park while rolling.

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